Game “Lore” Dossier

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I’m stuck on a Writing question and need an explanation.

Every good story has lore. How much, of course, depends on the story, and this is equally true of games. As I sit right now in my office, I can see the enormous 400-page book that contains Legend of Zelda lore, but I can also remember playing the game on my NES as a child and having only a few paragraphs of story and then the game itself to teach me much of that lore.

Lore is tricky.

For some games, the lore is miles deep but not essential to the game experience (if you’ve played Dark Souls, for example, the lore is on the item tooltips, so you could play the entire game and miss 90% of the lore). For other games, the lore is sparse and is woven into the primary thrust of the game (Mario is going to save the princess from the big evil turtle guy).

Many games have a thing called a “lore bible.” As you might guess from that heavy-handed name, these are long documents.

We aren’t making that.

What we are going to make instead is a set of three useful, practical pieces of lore building for the world of your project.

1. A sort of big-sky (but not sky big) world-building design narrative (no less than two pages, no more than five). This document’s job is to explain the nature of the world in which the game exists. Is it modern? Is it ancient? Is there gravity? Is there water? If there are multiple variations on the reality that we know, this document could get tricky, but the goal is to explain in an easy-to-access way what governs the game universe. For example if we were to talk about the world of Batman: Arkham Asylum, most of the basics of that world mirror our own, so we don’t need to talk about how days pass, that there are water and money, etc. We would want to explain how gravity doesn’t apply to Batman, why the world is terrified of a guy who does bat cosplay, that it apparently rains 24/7 in Gotham, that a spooky clown somehow always wins, etc.

2. Character designs– two of them. You can decide what these characters are and how essential they are to the story. This is much more of a classic creative writing activity, and I will give you some templates to follow in class. The goal here is to develop a document that explains a character well enough that another person could attempt to write him/her. These can be as long or short as you feel you need, but I can tell you right now that a page isn’t sufficient for someone else to understand the character.

3. A Folktale. Every world, every culture, has its stories. You will write a 2-4 page fairytale for your world. It can be historical, it can be magical, it can be fabricated to serve the needs of the power elite in the world. That’s up to you.

How you’ll be graded:

If you want a D, (100 points)… all you have to do is create everything here. It can even be bad. It just has to exist.

If you want a C (115 points), you need to create everything here, and all of the pieces need to pass a peer test of viability (we will do this in class), meaning that they’re at least “usable.”

To get up to a B (130 points), you need create everything here and at least one of the three pieces has to be considered exceptional by the peer test in class.

And for my achievement hunters, to get your 100% and kill the boss, you need do well enough with each of the pieces here that you impress me. Dr. Phill, unquestioned Lorde of Ye Developing Lore.

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